Innovation isn’t just something that happens in Silicon Valley anymore – it’s here in our retail stores. Retailers are slowly but surely finding their spot in the innovation ecosystem, enlisting hardware vendors and software developers to integrate new technologies into their stores. They’ve already worked hard to achieve product innovation, now they’re striving for technology innovation.
The only way to keep up with consumer demands and technology trends is to embrace them. It’s important for retailers to stay informed of and interested in new retail technology.
Retailers need not be wary
Some have been leery to embrace retail technology too quickly in fear of alienating or confusing customers. After all, your customers may not be as familiar or concerned with the latest technologies as Apple or Google’s customers are. However, most of today’s solution providers are developing technologies for the average retail, aiming to help them adapt. Retailers don’t necessarily have to mimic the movements of big names in the retail industry – they can use them for inspiration, finding a happy balance that fits their store.
Big names are making the commitment
According to Oracle research, retailers are not only more willing to make larger, more strategic investments in IT, but are also seeding early-stage innovation, Forbes reports. They’re committed to providing exceptional customer experiences. Many big players are using labs to experiment with mobile apps and big data analytics, including Nordstrom, Walmart, Staples and Home Depot.
When leveraging innovations, Oracle suggests the following:
1. Physical stores become as intelligent as online stores
Ninety percent of retail sales occur in physical stores, so why not take advantage of your large audience? More and more brick-and-mortar retailers are taking cues from online stores by collecting and analyzing data about each customer’s path to purchase.
They can collect this information through email marketing, POS software, online ordering and customer loyalty platforms. This data can help you understand your customers’ purchasing patterns.
2. Retailers use technology to encourage customers to participate
In order to drive engagement and loyalty, retailers have to provide consumers with a valuable experience that they cannot achieve in an average store – they have to give them a reason to keep coming back.
Retailers are experimenting with consumer-facing innovations such as self-service kiosks and digital signage, which allow customers to participate in the innovation ecosystem, too. They entertain customers, allowing them to voluntarily engage with your brand. They can also provide them with information that they might not have had access to, such as product information.
These solutions can also give customers the option to enter personal information, such as their email address so you can build your customer database for marketing purposes.
The goal is to give customers as many options as possible: online, in-store, via mobile devices or consumer-facing retail technology. That way, they can choose the method or channel they prefer and have the shopping experience they desire. In theory, this approach will lead to stronger customer relationships and, in turn, increased sales.
3. Retailers and distribution centers allow customers the immediacy of online orders
Consumers want the immediacy and instant gratification they get from shopping on Amazon. In response, retailers are making efforts to replenish their inventory and deliver orders more quickly through in-store fulfillment and local delivery.
In other words, customers can place orders online and pick them up in the store or vice versa. And rather than having one large distribution center, they’re taking advantage of several smaller centers to speed up the processing and shipping period. Innovations like eReceipts, scannable paper receipts and eCommerce integrations could help customers place quicker orders and track the movement of their items.
Although new retail innovations can seem threatening or alienating at first glance, they actually help retailers get closer to consumers. You can learn more about your customers, what to expect from them and how to provide an experience that will make them enjoy shopping in your physical store.